Former Indian fast bowler Ajit Agarkar, who believes the ‘best XI’ should feature in the Test format while adding he is wondering why promising all-rounder Hardik Pandya was rested in the Test fold, as of now, in his early days of international career.
“I quite don’t understand why Hardik Pandya has been rested from playing Test cricket,” Agarkar was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.
Agarkar was also asked for his opinion about the four-bowler strategy for the Nagpur Test, as the five-bowler practice has been a norm which further saw India.
“Maybe, it’s also a reaction to what happened in Kolkata, but the pitch was a bit different. So, I would’ve expected them to play with the five bowlers,” Agarkar remarked.
Agarkar also reflected on the current playing XI while expecting a lot from the team which is ranked number one in the ICC Test rankings.
“Yeah, I don’t understand that with Test cricket, to be honest. I mean, your best XI should play in Test cricket. If you think that’s the best XI… fair enough…,” Agarkar added.
Agarkar believes Pandya should have been rested for the limited-overs series, in a bid to play a significant part in the five-day format.
“You can easily rest him from One-day cricket and Twenty20 cricket why would you want him to miss the Test cricket,” Agarkar maintained.
On Pandya’s conundrum, the 39-year-old Maharashtra-born former bowler while discussing the playing XI of India, Agarkar further seemed puzzled with the choice of resting the seam-bowling all-rounder, particularly in the Test format.
“Where everyone said he’s the all-rounder that we want to groom and we want him to get better,” Agarkar further added.
However, the 23-year-old Pandya earlier cleared the air by saying he has asked the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to give him some time after a lot of tight schedules.
“Get better and playing Test cricket especially with an away tour. And he gives you that balance if he does well with the bat and the ball,” Agarkar asserted.
Moreover, Agarkar explained Pandya has to give his best to improve his game which could be measured by playing the gentleman’s game.
Agarkar hinted off-field exercise are not meant to improve you, but it is the game that plays an imperative role.
“Obviously, he needs a lot of work on his game yet, but there’s no better way to improve than playing the game instead of being in a gym somewhere. So, little bit (of a) surprise (for me),” Agarkar stated.
Interestingly, Rohit Sharma has found his place in the second Test, as Agarkar feels it’s a very good opportunity for the batsman — to pay rich dividends in team’s favour.
“Look, Rohit Sharma is a very good player to be sitting out for too long, it’s his opportunity…,” Agarkar said.
Skipper Virat Kohli had not plenty of choices available before entering into the second Test, as Ishant Sharma was picked in the place of injured paceman Mohammed Shami, as Agarkar further stated picking six batters had that solid reason after Bhuvneshwar tied a not with his fiancée.
“I think they have just gone and picked the four best bowlers they’ve in the squad. Unfortunately, (Mohammed) Shami got injured (hip niggle), but that’s why they have had to go with six batters,” Agarkar concluded.
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After making his debut in 1998, Agarkar played 191 One-day Internationals followed by 26 Tests and four Twenty20 Internationals for India in his nine-year-long international career.
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